Germany weighing decision to deliver modern battlefield tanks to Ukraine

Ukraine has asked Germany to send Leopard 2 tanks to help it break through Russian lines and recapture territory. The Leopard 2 offers significant advantages over the older, Soviet-era tanks currently in service with both the Russian and Ukrainian armies.

David Silbey, associate professor of history at Cornell University and director of teaching and learning at Cornell in Washington, specializes in military history, defense policy and battlefield analysis.

Silbey says: “Up until now, Ukraine has been using largely Soviet-era Russian tanks that are several generations behind the most modern tanks (such as the Leopard, the American Abrams, or the Israeli Merkava).

“This newer generation of tanks have much better armor and defensive systems, much more powerful main weapons, and much better sensor suites, which allows them to fire at much longer range.

“Giving the Leopard 2 to Ukraine would give them a substantial quality advantage over the Russian army — though because the West couldn’t give thousands of them, there would still be a quantity disadvantage.”

“The drawback of these more-modern tanks is that they are heavy and logistics-intensive, needing a lot of fuel and maintenance. The Leopard less so than the Abrams, which is why much of the discussion has focused on it.

Image: Torbjørn Kjosvold for the Norwegian Military Media Archive/Forsvarets Mediearkiv. Creative Commons 2.0 license.

For interviews contact Adam Allington, cell: 231-620-7180,

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		A military tank in a field with trees nearby